Man in ar­son trial

Accrington Observer - - YOUR VIEWS -


AMAN is stand­ing trial ac­cused of us­ing ‘red diesel’ to com­mit ar­son at a car re­pair busi­ness.

Matthew Clegg’s DNA was found on a plas­tic fuel con­tainer be­lieved to gave been used to start the blaze at the Great Har­wood firm and his mo­bile phone sig­nal was lo­cated in the area at around the time of the in­ci­dent, Burn­ley Crown Court heard.

Mr Clegg de­nies the charge of com­mit­ting ar­son at John Allen’s car re­pair busi­ness at Unit 5, Deveron Mill, on Meadow Street.

Pros­e­cu­tor Robert Smith told the jury that the busi­ness was tar­geted by two males at around 11pm on Fe­bru­ary 1 last year and caused £2,000 worth of dam­age.

The jury was told that on the even­ing of Fe­bru­ary 1 a man work­ing in a nearby unit saw two males on a CCTV mon­i­tor walk­ing to­wards Unit 5, with one of the men ‘look­ing through the let­ter box’. Mr Smith said the ‘fea­tures of both in­di­vid­u­als can’t be made out’ on the CCTV.

The jury heard that the males were spot­ted re­turn­ing to the scene a short time later and the man could ‘smell burn­ing’. Mr Allen was called and when he ar­rived at his busi­ness he saw the build­ing was on fire and he no­ticed a plas­tic fuel con­tainer next to the door of the unit ‘which had not been there when he left’, prose­cu­tors said.

Mr Smith said there was a ‘strong smell of diesel’ and that the plas­tic con­tainer still held 150ml of ‘red diesel’ in­side. The jury was told that a DNA swab taken from the con­tainer matched Mr Clegg and he was ar­rested at Tommy Smith Com­mer­cials, where he worked, on Meadow Street on Fe­bru­ary 29.

In a pre-pre­pared state­ment he de­nied at­tend­ing the mill or com­mit­ting the ar­son. Mr Smith told the jury: “He said he only worked around the cor­ner from the premises con­cerned and had ac­cess to a num­ber of petrol can­is­ters and that the petrol canis­ter must have been taken from the yard nearby.”

The jury was told that Mr Clegg’s mo­bile phone was seized and showed that he was in Great Har­wood at 10.51pm – shortly be­fore the fire started. At 11.08pm, when the emer­gency ser­vices were called, he had moved away and his sig­nal was lo­cated in Wilp­shire the hear­ing was told. Clegg told po­lice his phone would be cell-sited there be­cause he lived in the area.


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